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AMBER researchers receive over €2.9m in research funding from Chinese Science Foundation and SFI

27 June 2018

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with responsibility for Brexit, Simon Coveney, TD and Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen, TD, today announced the details of eight new research collaborations supported through the partnership between Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

Two of the eight research collaborations are led by AMBER Investigators, Profs John Donegan and Plamen Stamenov, both from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Physics, who received over €1.2m and €1.7m respectively from both SFI and NSFC. The announcement, which was made on the occasion of the Export Trade Council meeting at Iveagh House in Dublin, is a direct result of a joint investment made by the Irish government through Science Foundation Ireland to the value of €8.6 million euro and ¥31,920,000 (ca. €4,273,000) from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Speaking at Iveagh House, Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, said: “Over the last decade Ireland’s engagement with China has grown from strength to strength, with China now ranking as Ireland’s largest trading partner in Asia. Collaboration and partnership in RD&I is vital for expanding this relationship. China’s emphasis on high technology systems, particularly in green-tech, is extremely complimentary to Ireland’s research prioritisation and reflected in some of the outstanding projects being launched here today.”

Madam Hua Yang, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China, Ireland, commented: “Today’s award symbolizes a good start of greater Science, Technology and Innovation cooperation between China and Ireland in the years to come. It is our belief and hope that, with concerted efforts from both countries, our cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation will achieve more accomplishment, benefiting the well-being of the people from both countries and around the world.”

Professor John Donegan received over €1.2m funding to work in collaboration with Professor Guo in HUST (Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan) on developing a new optical source. In the near future, a new type of optical source will be required for use in the networks that provide our internet. At present, we use lasers since they can provide a high power at a single wavelength. In the future, we will need the optical source to have a very precise frequency and it must be small with low operating costs. This will enable much higher data rates and allow communication with a large range of devices. Professor Guo is a former post-doc of Professor Donegan and was awarded a 1000 talented youth grant on returning to China. They have published over 40 joint papers and hold 4 joint patents.

Professor Plamen Stamenov will work with Huazhong University of Science and Technology on a new class of ‘topological’ magnetic materials that can allow us to communicate data without external power, using the principle of a self-winding watch. This will be invaluable over the next 10–20 years in the era of Smart Cities, and the Internet of Things. The project received funding of over €1.7m from both SFI and NSFC.

The eight projects receiving funding were subject to rigorous review with approximately 250 international expert reviewers assisting in the peer-review process. The chosen projects feature research into the areas of wireless and optical communications, artificial intelligence, micro- and nano-electronics, climate change, green energy, and nano-materials for biomedical applications. Four academic institutions in Ireland will collaborate with six institutions across the People’s Republic of China to carry out this work.

Congratulating the awardees, Dr Ciarán Seoighe, Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, said: “I am delighted to welcome the first eight awards under the new SFI-NSFC Partnership Programme. Science Foundation Ireland has been building research links between Ireland and the People’s Republic of China for the last number of years and the launch of these partnerships is a testament to the strong collaborative relationship between our two nations. Combining the expertise and resources of both research communities has proven very successful in attracting innovative and impactful project submissions. I am excited to see the outcomes from today’s successful applicants.”

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